Thanksgiving is upon us, and if you haven’t already started cooking this year, you might want to consider these tips for making your Turkey Day enjoyable, without gobbling up a ton of resources.
- Be a local hero and buy organic foods. You can use the Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture’s guide for help. As for the turkey, you can try a quick search for a local turkey farm here, and support your local economy and buy a turkey that led a cage-free and free-range life. Decreasing the miles involved in the transportation of the turkey and finding an energy-efficient farm can help lessen the environmental impact of your family feast.
- Try to cook only what you can finish. One of the best parts about Thanksgiving is the leftovers that seem to only get better with time. Yet there is the inevitable point when enough is enough, and the extra food ends up being thrown away. This year, plan accordingly and cut back on the amount of food you cook, saving time, money, and the amount of dishes that need cleaning at the end of the day. If you end up with enough to feed a small army, consider donating to your local food shelter. Better to give the food away than add it to the giant pile of food waste we toss out each year in the United States.
- Store your food outdoors. If you live in a cold region, conserve space in your refrigerator and store the food outside. Remember to keep the food well-covered, out of the sun, and away from animals.
- Conserve water. If you boil a pot of water to cook some potatoes, instead of pouring the water down the drain after you strain them, put a pot underneath to catch the piping hot water to use in the gravy or to cook the green beans. The time and energy spent by a Thanksgiving cook is precious—don’t let it go to waste.
- Save paper. Paper is the largest source of waste sent to our landfills. In 2007, paper products made up about 83 million tons (33 percent) of the waste stream. Reduce its use through reusable dishes, cloth napkins, and rags instead of paper plates, napkins, and towels.
- Ask a neighbor. Every year, the moment occurs when you realize you forgot the condensed milk, or you run out of eggs and have to make a quick trip to the local grocery. This year, instead of getting into your car, knock on a neighbor’s door to see if he or she has what you need. Thanksgiving is all about community and giving thanks; this is a perfect opportunity for a friendly (and much appreciated) interaction with your neighbors.
- Clean wisely. At the end of the day, when half the family is sleeping from the tryptophan in the turkey, someone realizes that the kitchen needs to be cleaned. Instead of using the regular detergents and cleaners, try an eco-friendly version using the things you already have in your kitchen, such as baking soda and vinegar. If you are out of stock in that department, check out some store-bought products such as Seventh Gen.
And as always, make use of any other green expertise you have throughout the day. Carpool to wherever you will be gathering with properly inflated tires, and don’t forget to turn off the oven when you’re done!